PHOENIX - Life hasn't always been easy for 18-year-old Courtney Raymond.
She was raised by a single mom, spent some of her childhood in a domestic violence shelter, and didn't learn to read until she was nine years old. Yet she was always determined to succeed.
"My mom started homeschooling me in 5th grade as a way of continuing to be ahead in other subjects since no one was noticing I had a severe reading problem," Raymond said.
Courtney wasn't diagnosed with dyslexia until she was 14 years old, but at that point, she had already surpassed many of her peers academically by skipping high school and going straight to Scottsdale Community College.
There, she scored second-highest on the school's entry reading exam.
"So from the time of being nine to 14, I went from [being] unable to read to scoring the second-highest just through a ton of hard work."
After finishing two years at SCC, she transferred to Arizona State University and got her bachelor's degree in biological sciences. She's now working on her master's in biology with the goal of becoming a surgeon and serving a stint in the Air Force.
"I actually had it in my third grade goal setting that I wanted to join the Air Force so it worked out beautifully."
And in the midst of a global pandemic, Courtney says she's now perhaps more inspired than ever before to pursue medicine and to make a difference in the world.
"So many people need help and there are so many wonderful health professionals I would love to be apart of as I get older."
And Courtney says her advice to anyone else with big dreams is that just because something isn't easy, that doesn't mean it's not possible.
"If you keep working you can accomplish all sorts of important things."
Courtney also works two jobs in addition to going to school to help support her family. She fosters kittens, speaks two languages, and she even has a black belt.
At the rate she is going, she will be a Doctor of Medicine by the time she is 24 years old.